Follow in Nigel's Footsteps

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Grey Phalarope...

At last - a Seaton Grey Phalarope! So many have been turning up around the country, it was surely only a matter of time before one came close enough to go and see. I was tempted by the Budleigh Salterton bird (see Dave's photos in the last post) but it was a little distant to view and I've seen so many at close range that I didn't bother in the end.

Then along came this little fellow - a confiding beauty and just a short hop from my son's school. I decided to nip down and see it before picking him up on the way back home. True to form this one was showing very well, even if it was back-lit most of the time.

Grey Phalarope, Black Hole Marsh, Seaton: R. Harris

Grey Phalarope, Black Hole Marsh, Seaton: R. Harris

Grey Phalarope, Black Hole Marsh, Seaton: R. Harris

Grey Phalarope, Black Hole Marsh, Seaton: R. Harris
Grey Phalarope: Video

Great to see the locals birders there too, it's been a while since I bumped into them. Don't forget to check out Steve Waite's and Tim White's blogs too!

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Baird's Sandpiper...

Dave Helliar's run of good birds continues!  No sooner had I posted the last blog than a Baird's Sandpiper turns up in Dorset and only a short distance from Weymouth where the other American waders had been seen (see previous posts)! Thanks to Dave for the photos...his fourth American wader in a week. What will be found next?

Baird's Sandpiper, Wyke Regis: Dave Helliar

Baird's Sandpiper, Wyke Regis: Dave Helliar

Baird's Sandpiper, Wyke Regis: Dave Helliar
Dave also caught up with a Grey Phalarope, which appeared on floodwater at Budleigh Salterton in Devon last week. Although generally very confiding birds, this one stayed out on the flood as wasn't particularly close.

Grey Phalarope, Budleigh Salterton: Dave Helliar

Grey Phalarope, Budleigh Salterton: Dave Helliar

Grey Phalarope, Budleigh Salterton: Dave Helliar

I haven't been able to get out much recently - work is just too busy leading up to a Canada trip in a couple of weeks. I did get to Seaton for a brief walk with my son at the weekend though - I'll have to make do with some commoner species.

Black-tailed Godwit, Seaton: R. Harris

Eurasian Curlew, Seaton: R. Harris
With a bit of luck I'll pick up one or two of the American waders I missed here when I get to Newfoundland at the end of the month.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Buff-breasted Sandpiper...

No sooner had Dave Helliar seen the Stilt and Least Sandpipers at Lodmoor, than he was back down to Portland the very next day for yet another American wader!  This time a very handsome Buff-breasted Sandpiper that pitched up in a horse paddock just outside Southwell.

A few have been seen around the UK already this autumn - more reminiscent of the 1980's when they seemed much more frequent visitors than today.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Portland, Dorset: D. Helliar

Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Portland, Dorset: D. Helliar

Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Portland, Dorset: D. Helliar

Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Portland, Dorset: D. Helliar
If the current fall of American waders is anything to go by, we could potentially see some exciting passerines too. It would be good to see another Parula...

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

American Duo...

Looks like the recent hurricanes off the south eastern seaboard of the USA have started producing some excellent birds here in the UK. Many places seem to be having a 'purple patch' at the moment and none less than Lodmoor at Weymouth in Dorset. A few days ago a Stilt Sandpiper was found there closely followed by a Least Sandpiper (Dorset's first). Dave Helliar saw them both yesterday and kindly supplied the photos below:

Stilt Sandpiper (right-hand bird), Lodmoor, Dorset: D. Helliar

Least Sandpiper: D. Helliar

Least Sandpiper: D. Helliar

Least Sandpiper: D. Helliar
 And finished it off with a visit to Portland where he saw this Wryneck...that's not a bad day!

Wryneck: D. Helliar

I'm sure with the current weather patterns on the other side of the Atlantic at the moment that we are certain to see more American birds on our shores very soon, hopefully in the southwest!

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Generating Interest...

It's easy to question (and despair) where the next generation of naturalists will come from. There are exceptions out there but as a parent I can vouch for the fact that very few children (none in my sons primary school!) seem to have an interest in the natural world around them; they get their nose in an iPad and it can be a challenge to get them outside. So when my thirteen year old Goddaughter phoned me last night and asked if I could take her to see a snake, I jumped at the opportunity.

Luckily there's a reliable site close by for Grass Snakes Natrix helvetica, so we went there this morning to try our luck. She was not disappointed. Upon flipping the refuge we found a female Slow Worm Anguis fragilis and a good size male Grass Snake who was close to sloughing. Not wanting the  inevitable 'musking' to put her off, she donned a pair of disposable gloves and didn't hesitate to hold both the Slow Worm and the Grass Snake - perhaps there's some hope yet...

Handle with care. The first time my
Goddaughter held a Snake...and it
was her idea! 
Rightly pleased with herself - she was worried
She might have hurt the snake but it was
feigning death in the hope she'd leave it alone.
You see this behaviour often but certainly more frequently when
sloughing and they feel at their most vulnerable.
I look forward to showing her more next spring and hopefully kindling an interest that will last her a lifetime.